Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet watched The Walking Dead's big Season 8 finale.
After a full season of the All Out War storyline (time-jumbled as it may have been), and over two seasons of Negan's villainous influence literally squeezing the lives out of Alexandria and other communities, Rick's most mountainous struggle has finally come to an end. At least, this leg of it has, since The Walking Dead's struggles never really end. The Season 8 finale answered a lot of questions we had about how things would wrap up, and how the future would be introduced. So let's break it all down, shall we?
With some bright notes playing in the background, the episode started with Rick reflecting on memories of Carl, both his own and Siddiq's bummer of an anecdote about the afternoon when Carl got bitten. And then Morgan reminded Rick about being a lying monster, and how that made him worse. Not exactly the strongest headspace to be in when going out to end this kind of wide-scale conflict, but Rick's not the strongest-headspace kind of person.
On the flip side, Negan went into things with enough confidence to fuel a helicopter. He just knew Rick & Co. would fall for his trap, and Eugene's bullet-making efforts were another source of Negan's bulging self-assurance. But his recent brawls must have loosened a few brain cells loose, since that whole "Dwight and Gregory" combination is hardly the most trustworthy combo. And he also blabbed the fuck out about all these things in front of Gabriel, who tried to make an escape and failed terribly at it. His plan sort of worked, but it was that bravado that destroyed him in the end.
Because Eugene went and become a goddamned HERO, y'all, or at least something resembling that. Despite looking like he was going to be responsible for the deaths of so many protagonists, Eugene actually sabotaged all of the bullets that he made within the Sanctuary. At least, all of the ones that he ended up making after learning of Negan's plan to kill everyone, and not the ones that he used to prove his skills, either. Negan's attempted ambush-of-an-ambush turned into a bloody mess as all the Saviors' guns malfunctioned, and Negan's gun hand did not make it through unscathed, either. Oh, and the Oceanside people showed up and helped out, but only for like...5 seconds.
Which brought us to that rarely seen tree with the stained glass hanging from it, and we saw that was where Rick and Negan had their "final" showdown, in which Negan failed to quickly incapacitate Rick, and then talked too much instead of doing the deed. Rick succeeded in appealing to Negan's Carl-appreciating nature, and got the cocky sumbitch to actually stand still and shut up for a few seconds, just long enough to slice his throat with a piece of the stained glass. And just when it looked like Rick would go on to defy Carl's wishes, as well as Robert Kirkman's source material, Rick called for Negan to be saved, which drew out Maggie's impassioned protests. (How he automatically knew that Negan's jugular could withstand the slice, or that Siddiq could fix it, I have no idea.)
Rick then gave everyone who was still alive a big speech about how Negan's way of ruling things was a way of the past, and that anyone who had a problem with Negan still being alive would face the consequences. He promised, guys. A new world is beginning now, and it started with Rick sitting beneath that tree, just as we'd seen him do in the midseason premiere. Oh, and with a super-duper-gigantic herd of walkers on the horizon.
Helping out in the new world will be Alden, who apparently knows how to build things. And several other Saviors, such as Laura, are also on board and happy with turning things around. (Not so much how it went with Dwight, though.) Morgan told Jadis she was good to head out into a Negan-free world, though he'd be staying behind in the junkyard. And then there was Maggie's big moment, where she shared with Jesus her disapproval of how Rick and Michonne handled Negan's fate, with Daryl on board. Rick and Michonne want Negan to be an example, rotting in a cell for the rest of his life, possibly calling back to the cell that Morgan built.
Oh, and for anyone wondering how Rosita handled that whole "Eugene puking all over her in order to get away" thing, especially after Eugene came through and showed his worth, she punched him square in his big jaw. And Gabriel can apparently see now? Score! (Unless that was a metaphor for Gabriel dying, which would be less of a score.)
While waiting for Season 9 to get here, fans can keep the Walking Dead franchise love going on AMC with Fear the Walking Dead Season 4, which has brought Morgan into the mix. Check out what we learned from star Maggie Grace, and to see what other shows you can watch now that The Walking Dead has wrapped for its latest hiatus, head to our midseason premiere schedule and our summer premiere schedule.